I love Dulé Hill. That is all.

Hello, I am doing a reading deprivation again. It’s only the first full 24 hours. It sucks. The only reading I am doing is the reading I have to do for my online class. Also, my daughter is applying to study abroad programs, so I am reading her essays. Since classes start next week, I have put very clear boundaries around how long I can work on course prep since, yes, most of what I’m reading for that is my own notes but also some of it is the course texts. I won’t complain (much) since no one is forcing me to do this, but also: boo.

Besides finishing some books, the most important thing that happened this past week is that I went to see Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole, which was just…whew.

Continue reading “I love Dulé Hill. That is all.”

Recommendation Wednesday: The Artist’s Way

This book changed my life.

I mentioned in my musings on what I might do for my artist date that I was working through the book because I assigned it to my creative writing class and thought it might be a good idea to know what, exactly, I was asking them to do. I really wasn’t prepared for the impact this book would have on me.

The two biggest tools of the book are completing the morning pages and going on the artist date. That’s where I found the impact and the transformation. Well, those two tools and the reading deprivation during Week 4.

Basically, how the book works is that each week you read a chapter, write the morning pages, take yourself on an artist date, and complete some (or all) of the tasks at the end of the chapter. Repeat until the book is complete. Twelve chapters = twelve weeks.

How did it change my life?

The biggest deficit in my life is in the area of self-care. I suck at it. It is legit the hardest thing I do. What the morning pages and the artist date do is privilege self-care. Since I committed to completing the book, I committed to doing the work. (I am nothing if not a good student.) Doing the work meant writing the pages and going on the date. Every week.

I should note, though, that I rarely, if ever, wrote the morning pages in the actual morning. Even though Cameron says several times that it should be done before starting your day, that is not realistic for me. In fact, that’s what kept me from completing the book last time. Once I gave myself permission to just treat the morning pages as daily pages, finishing the work became manageable. I have done a lot of work on my perfectionism in the past few years, so understanding that I could do the pages imperfectly was key. Also, let’s be real: getting up a half-hour early is antithetical to my self-care.

Harder than the pages for me was the artist date. I had to start really small. Watching an hour of TV without doing anything else (like folding or separating clothes). Coloring at my dining room table. Going to the movies. However, as I kept with it, I started doing other things, bigger things. I went to plays. I took a West African dance class. I took a jazz dance class. I started planning other creative and fun things I could do with my time. Now it feels almost second nature to say yes to activities I would have previously told myself I didn’t have time for. I have made it a habit to sit down and watch TV shows I like because I like to watch them. I’m not too busy for the things I actually enjoy doing. It makes it a lot easier to do work or be creative when I know I’m not depriving myself of fun stuff.

Life is meant to be an artist date.

I will also note that I started The Artist’s Way in the summer when I wasn’t working. Completing the pages and the date became more difficult once school started back. But I kept at them.

The reading deprivation also marked a key point in my recovery (as the book calls it). I got a LOT of clarity. For one, I realized that part of the reason I was blocked (I haven’t written anything in years) was that I wasn’t interested in the type of writing I had told myself I needed to be doing or was interested in. I was, as they say, should-ing on myself, which kept me from doing what I wanted to do. The other major thing that happened during my deprivation is that I cleaned my room, set up an office, and opened up space for what I want my life to be.

So, yeah. Big changes.

I absolutely recommend this book for blocked creatives with the understanding that it is definitely not for everyone. The subtitle is “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” after all. For anyone resistant to ideas of spirituality or discussions/mentions of God (though Cameron does point out that you don’t have to believe in any god to use the book and gives suggestions for what word to replace God with as you read, e.g., “creative force” or “good orderly direction” among others), probably you might not be as open to some of the suggestions or language Cameron uses. However, if you are willing or able to look past that language, I think there’s a lot of value here.

And, of course, if you are willing to do the work.

The Artist’s Way: Reading Deprivation

I am currently on week four of the The Artist’s Way, and this week’s big task is the reading deprivation. The reading deprivation is exactly what it sounds like: no reading. For seven days.

NO READING. FOR SEVEN DAYS.

I am on day four and have officially hit the wall. I am so bored. I might be dying from boredom. It’s possible.

So the thing about no reading is that it’s not just books, which is bad enough, really. The whole point of the reading deprivation is to not fill up on other people’s words. Here are the things she lists in the book that should be avoided:

  • novels and newspapers (obviously)
  • TV
  • gossipy conversations
  • radio

Why? Because “for most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own” (pg. 87).

I CANNOT EVEN ARGUE WITH THAT. I am a book/reading junkie. Here’s what I have given up for the week:

  • Books in all forms (including audiobooks)
  • Facebook/Twitter/other social media
  • Feedly/blogs
  • The news in all forms
  • Podcasts
  • Music with words (which I didn’t think counted, but my friend said totally counts)
  • Online shopping
  • TV (including Jeopardy and reality competitions, which I didn’t think counted, but my daughter said totally counts)
  • Movies (Netflix or theater or otherwise)
  • Calling tech support to figure out why my TiVo didn’t survive the move from one room to the other
  • PRETTY MUCH ALL OF THE INTERNET, BASICALLY

I am also checking my email the most minimum of amounts.

(When I told my mom I was going to write a blog post, she asked if I could do that. YES, MOTHER, I CAN WRITE WHATEVER I WANT. I just have to avoid reading other people’s stuff!) (You can see how I am a little on edge.)

Anyway, this fast is super hard! It was easier giving up Facebook and Twitter for Lent (of course, I could still read other stuff then) than to go one week without ALL OF MY BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL WORDS.

On the plus side, I have gotten some stuff done. My room is now almost all the way clean. I managed to finally hang up my undergrad degree on the wall (it took 20 minutes, tops, and my parents got it framed for me for Christmas. I am aware that it is August. THIS IS WHAT AVOIDING READING DOES TO A PERSON). I helped my mom figure out Facebook–something I had been telling her I would help her with forever. Does that count as breaking my deprivation? Not really because (a) something that needed to be done and (b) showing her how to upload files and check messages and post to FB doesn’t really help me read my newsfeed.

Tomorrow, I’m going to organize one (or both) of my bookshelves. I may gather up the stuff I need to drop off at Goodwill. There is plenty to do when there is no reading to be done!

Anyway, yes, I am reaping the benefits. Not only is my room clean, but I have gained a surprising amount of clarity about certain things in my life–especially as they relate to my creativity. Yes, I am spending more time with my inner self. Yes, I have discovered the beauty of film scores on Songza. Blah blah blah. IT’S GREAT.

Can it be Thursday now?

The Artist’s Way & the Artist Date

TThe Artist's Way by Julia Cameronhis fall, I’m teaching a fiction writing class for the first time, and I’m super excited. Because I’ve never taught the class before, I’m using a co-worker’s syllabus. (Sidenote: I was going to build the class from scratch but another co-worker talked me out of that, which is probably a good idea–especially considering that I have to build my two other core courses over again.) So, since this co-worker uses The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron for the class,  I will, too.

Continue reading “The Artist’s Way & the Artist Date”